12/28/2001 12:00AM

Frankel can end year in style


ARCADIA, Calif. - The $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap on Sunday at Santa Anita comes at an ideal time for trainer Bobby Frankel, who is having a career-best year.

Entering the weekend, Frankel had 18 Grade 1 stakes wins and had 49 stakes wins, one shy of his personal best of 50.

In the Grade 2 San Gabriel Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, Frankel has entered three - El Gran Papa, No Slip*, and Northern Quest* (click here for PP's), all stakes winners in 2001.

Frankel on Friday said that El Gran Papa and No Slip will start, and that Northern Quest's participation hinges on the weather. "If it rains, I might run him," he said.

Even without Northern Quest, Frankel has a well-stocked team for the San Gabriel.

No Slip is unbeaten in two starts since arriving in the summer from France, where he placed in a listed stakes. Owned by Amerman Racing, No Slip won an allowance race at Del Mar on Sept. 2 and the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby by a nose over Sligo Bay on Oct. 13.

No Slip has not started since the Oak Tree Derby and is making his debut against older horses.

"I don't think that will bother him," Frankel said.

El Gran Papa has not started since finishing third in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap in July. Winner of the Dallas Turf Cup Handicap in June, he is a danger as a stalker.

Northern Quest finished seventh in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup Handicap on Dec. 1, but won the Grade 3 Golden Gate Fields Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/8 miles in March on a soft turf course.

The opposition includes Irish Prize, the winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile in June and the 121-pound highweight; Bonapartiste, who was second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 1; and Sligo Bay, who finished second in the Hollywood Derby on Nov. 25.

Bonapartiste ran his best race in a year when he finished two lengths behind the Frankel-trained Super Quercus in the Hollywood Turf Cup.

Irish Prize will be ridden by Gary Stevens and spots the competition as much as 11 pounds. This fall, Irish Prize finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont Park and was third in the Citation Handicap over a soggy turf course at Hollywood Park on Nov. 24. With his best effort, he could derail the Frankel team.

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